A Thames farming company has been hit with a $47,000 fine and ordered to stop milking until it fixed the overflowing effluent system at its Kopu farm.
The order came from Judge Jeff Smith in sentencing Tuitahi Farms Limited in a decision released from the Auckland District Court last week.
The company was convicted on four environmental offences under the Resource Management Act and fined $47,250 for offending, which the judge said had "long term and insidious" effects.
Tuitahi Farms has since upgraded its effluent system and has resumed milking.
The Waikato Regional Council prosecuted the company after it was inspected following an aerial monitoring flight in September 2013.
At the farm the officers discovered a range of unlawful discharges, including milk vat waste and large volumes of dairy effluent being discharged directly into farm drains. The drains flow a short distance to the Waihou River which flows to the Firth of Thames.
Council investigations manager Patrick Lynch said the issue was not easy to deal with.
"Though this farmer should have made improvements years ago, we realise that the order initiated by the court put him in a difficult situation. Cows are calving and the dairy shed, where effluent collects, needs to be used at this time of year," Lynch said.
Council officers inspected the property last week and confirmed that a robust effluent management system was now in place and operational.
"This effluent system now has the ability to protect the environment 365 days of the year and the farmer can get on with his business lawfully."
Changes included making above-ground storage with enough volume to make the most of the effluent and water for irrigation during the dry summer months.
The flights which discovered the issue at the Kopu farm are on hold while the council reviews the programme.
- Waikato Times